As hard as it may be to accept, aging is a fact of life. If you have elderly relatives—parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or even older siblings—you may find yourself in a position where you need to provide care. If this is new and uncharted territory for you, it probably feels a little overwhelming. Here is a short guide to caring for an elderly relative to help you out.
Consider Their Needs and Do Some Research
The first step to caring for an elderly relative should be to carefully think about what their care needs are, and to research how best to address those needs. Is your loved one struggling with mobility issues? Has their memory started to falter? Are they still able to carry out day-to-day tasks with relative ease?
Talk to them and assess their situation on a regular basis—things can change suddenly and drastically. Once you’ve identified what type of help your loved one needs, you should do some specific research to find out how you can help. Ask a doctor or a medical professional for advice and look online for solutions.
Dealing with Mobility Issues
As people age, mobility becomes more difficult. Muscles weaken over time, and once this happens, it’s difficult to undo it. If your relative suffers a fall and hurts themselves, recovery can be slow, and they may not get back to the same level of mobility that they had before.
Take a close look at your relative’s home. Are mobility issues making home life more difficult? If so, they may need you to make one or more of the following changes to their home:
- Install a stair lift
- Install a ramp to the front door
- Change the toilet
- Update the shower or tub
- Rearrange the kitchen for easier access to pots and pans
Changes to the home are an easy way for you to improve your relative’s home life.
Nobody likes talking about money, but remembering to pay bills on time and deal with other financial issues such as pension payments is incredibly important. If your loved one is struggling to cope, offer to help. Make a list of their outgoing monthly costs and see if they could be saving money on any of them. Offer to organize all bills for them to save them the stress of money worries.
Consider a Care Facility
It’s a difficult conversation to have, but at some point, you may need to talk about more hands-on care options for your family member. If their care needs are becoming more numerous, a live-in caregiver might suffice, but your relative should also consider moving into a care facility.
There are many fantastic senior living facilities available across the US, so talk to your loved one if their care needs are more than you can cope with.
The most important aspect of providing care to a family member is to communicate regularly. Have frequent and open conversations about what they need and what help you can give them. It can be difficult, but nobody wants to face the issues associated with aging alone, and open conversations are the best way to deal with them.
Talk to your elderly relatives to assess their needs and create a plan to deal with them.